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December 7, 2019 - 11:56am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Fox Valley Veto out front with driver Billy Davis Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

With no more Wednesday racing this year at Batavia Downs, the top distaff pace joined the weekly featured trot on Friday night (Dec. 6) with one race providing an upset and the other satisfying the chalk bettors.

In the $12,500 Open I Handicap trot, Fox Valley Veto (Billy Davis Jr.) settled in fourth off the gate and watched as Chuckabuck (Drew Monti) made a break and Alert Hanover (Jim McNeight Jr.) overtook Empire Earl N (Mike Caprio) for the lead at the quarter pole. After all that action sorted itself out, Davis pulled Veto off the pegs at the three-eighths pole and motored to the top by the half in 1:00.2.

As the race progressed onto the second circuit, Wheels A Turning (Shawn McDonough) came calling on the outside and matched strides with Fox Valley Veto up the backside, around the far turn and into the stretch. The battle continued down the lane until Fox Valley Veto slammed the door at the light, winning by one-half length in 1:58.3 at 15-1 .

It was the 11th win of the year for Fox Valley Veto ($33.40) and owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice trains the winner.

(Photo of Lady London with reinsman Ray Fisher Jr.)

Then in the $12,500 Open I Handicap pace of fillies and mares, Lady London (Ray Fisher Jr.) drifted fourth on the outside for the first eighth of a mile before she made a quick rush for the lead at the quarter in :28.2. From there the race was history.

Lady London opened up a 1-&frac12 length lead by the half in :58.3 and extended it to four at the three-quarters in 1:26.4. With no one even close as she sprinted around the last turn, Lady London jogged home wrapped up like a Christmas present to win by 6-½ lengths in 1:56.

It was the third win in the last four starts for Lady London ($5.40) and owner VHF Racing. Sabrina Shaw is the trainer.

Eight participating horse people had multiple win performances on Friday night. Drivers Billy Davis Jr. and Drew Monti led the way with three wins each on the card while Shawn McDonough and John Cummings Jr. both won two. And trainers Sabrina Shaw, Maria Rice, Jim Tronolone and Dave Russo all sent two stablemembers to the winner’s enclosure for photographs.

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Saturday (Dec. 7) with post time at 6 p.m.

December 7, 2019 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, basketball, sports, batavia.


Batavia couldn't quite close the gap at the end Friday night in their home opener against Honeoye Falls-Lima, falling 59-57.

Zach Bilebarto had a big game for the Blue Devils, scoring 25 points while hitting seven three-point shots. Caden White hit three three-pointers and finished with 13 points. Camden White scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

To view or purchase prints, click here.






December 6, 2019 - 12:19pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer recently sat down with President of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) Pat O’Conner, and owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, John Hughes, to hear out their concerns about Major League Baseball’s (MLB) reported proposal to restructure the minor leagues and dramatically reduce or significantly restructure a number of Upstate franchises that share an affiliation with an MLB club.

The group also discussed ways to alter the plan to reduce its potentially harmful impacts in New York. Additionally, last week, Schumer spoke with Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club — the community ownership group of the Batavia Muckdogs — to hear out his concerns, as well.

“I was so pleased to have MiLB President Pat O’Conner and John Hughes, owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, down to my office in Washington to talk through the MLB’s troubling plan to restructure the minor leagues and strike teams across Upstate New York out of their major league affiliations," Schumer said.

"The conversation was positive and we all agreed that we must work in lock-step to keep minor league baseball sewn into the very fabric of our state, as it has been since World War II. Before finalizing its plans, MLB must continue its discussions with local leaders, stakeholders and MiLB with the goal of reworking this plan and preventing New York from being left in the dust. MLB threw Upstate New York a biting curveball here, but we are looking to foul it off and get a better pitch to hit.”

Last month, news reports revealed that MLB is planning to take 42 teams that are currently affiliated with Major League teams and strip those organizations of their affiliations and reassign them to compete in a newly formed, lower-caliber league, called the Dream League.

Reports indicate that MLB’s current proposal would eliminate the Major League affiliations of four teams across New York State: the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Batavia Muckdogs, Auburn Doubledays and Staten Island Yankees — and drastically alter the business plans of the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones.

During the meeting, Schumer heard out MiLB’s and the Rumble Ponies’ serious concerns with the plan, and vowed to do whatever he could to maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

This November, after learning of the proposal, Schumer immediately wrote to MLB to express his serious concerns, push the league to stop playing hardball and sit down with local stakeholders to discuss the plan and search for constructive solutions that would maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

In the time since, MLB met with representatives of MiLB and team owners to talk about the plan in further detail. Schumer is now urging those conversations to continue and for the parties to figure out a way to prevent the Upstate minor league teams from losing their major league affiliations.

December 5, 2019 - 3:06pm

Photo: Byron-Bergen Player of the Year honorees (l-r) Bryce Yockel, Maddie Farnsworth, Kelsey Fuller and Sam Pringle.

Submitted photo and press release from Gretchen Spittler, Byron-Bergen Communications Specialist.

BERGEN -- Congratulations to our Genesee Region and Section V Class C Players of the Year. Four Byron-Bergen athletes were selected by sport-specific committees of coaches and league officials from a pool of all of the players on all of the teams within these divisions.

“These are incredible honors,” said Athletic Director Rich Hannan. “These athletes were chosen fromhundreds of candidates. They stood out for their talent, hard work, and unending dedication.”

  • Bryce Yockel was voted Offensive Football Player of the Year for Section V Class C;
  • Kelsey Fuller was voted Genesee Region and Section V Class C1 Girls Soccer Player of the Year;
  • Sam Pringle was voted Genesee Region Boys Soccer Player of the Year;
  • Maddie Farnsworth voted Genesee Region and Section V Class C Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

Congratulations also to Coach Kenneth Rogoyski, who was named Genesee Region Boys Soccer Coach of the Year; Coach Wayne Hill, who was named Genesee Region and Section V Class C Girls Soccer Coach of the Year; and Coach Cindy D’Errico, who was named Genesee Region and Section V Class C Volleyball Coach of the Year.

December 5, 2019 - 2:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

On Friday (Dec. 6) there is a carryover of $868 in the Pick-5 at Batavia Downs and a guaranteed pool of $3,000 has been announced for the Pick-5 wager that day.

The pool is part of the United States Trotting Association’s (USTA) Strategic Wagering Program and as such, free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster on the USTA’s website or by direct download by clicking here

The Pick-5 wager begins in race one and runs through race five. It is a 50-cent base wager and if all five winners aren’t selected, the carryover amount will move to the Saturday (Dec. 7) program.

Post time for the first race Friday is 6 p.m.

December 5, 2019 - 12:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, elba.

The Elba Lady Lancers beat Albion in Albion on Tuesday 52-38.

Brynn Walczak scored 19 points. Lauryn Engle scored 14 points, hitting three three-point baskets. Leah Bezon scored 12 points.

Walczak also had 10 rebounds. Bezon had five assists.

Honesty Little scored 10 points for Albion, Kendall Derisley, 9.

December 4, 2019 - 2:18pm

Press releases:

The Batavia Muckdogs today praised the newly created Save Minor League Baseball Task Force that has been organized by members of Congress to prevent Major League Baseball (MLB) from eliminating 42 minor league franchises, nearly one quarter of all minor league teams around the country.

“We appreciate the support of Rep. Lori Trahan (D.-Massachusetts), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and the members of the task force in standing up for Minor League Baseball and speaking out against MLB’s effort cast off thousands of jobs, reduce affordable, family-friendly entertainment and undermine grassroots support for our great game,” said Muckdogs General Manager Brendan Kelly.

The Batavia Muckdogs have been identified as one of the 42 franchises facing elimination under the MLB proposal.

Minor league teams are vital to the social and economic lives of millions of Americans; they support scores of local businesses and jobs, provide accessible entertainment, help promote tourism spending and donate tens of millions of dollars in charitable contributions.

“With this proposal, MLB is willing to break the hearts of dozens of communities across the country,” Kelly said. “We are going to resist this plan and are gratified that so many in Congress are willing to join with us.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Dec. 3 Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV), Max Rose (D- NY), and Mike Simpson (R-ID) announced the official formation of the bipartisan Save Minor League Baseball Task Force.

At the group’s inaugural meeting, interested Members heard from Minor League Baseball (MiLB) President Pat O’Conner and several Minor League team owners. The group discussed strategy to continue the momentum on this urgent issue.

The Save Minor League Baseball Task Force will advocate on behalf of the communities that stand to be mostharmed by MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league franchises. They will closely monitor ongoing negotiationsbetween MLB and MiLB as well as discuss potential legislative action if and when such a remedy becomes necessary.

“I am proud to launch this important Task Force with my co-chairs; Representatives McKinley, Rose, and Simpson," said Congresswoman Trahan. "Together along with our colleagues we will make perfectly clear that Congress is ready to defend ourcommunities, which stand to lose out in MLB’s proposal to slash the number of Minor League teams. The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home, and Congress must have a voice in this conversation,”

"Baseball is America’s pastime, and minor league teams have a major impact on small communities across our country,” said Congressman McKinley. “While we understand the MLB has concerns: the idea that doingaway with 42 teams is the only solution is not reasonable. We look forward to working with MiLB and MLB tofind a compromise that will preserve affiliated baseball in these cities.”

“Major League Baseball can look at all the ‘sabermetrics’ it wants, but what they don’t understand is the serious impact that losing these baseball teams will have on our communities,” said Congressman Rose. “You won’t see it in any formula, but my colleagues and I have all seen the impact teams like the Staten IslandYankees can have on the faces of the children who show up at the ballpark every year. I’m proud to join this effort to urge the MLB to reconsider.”

“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities," said Congressman Simpson. "Minor League Baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country. To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that depend on minor league baseball organizations. I am proud to join my colleagues in starting this task force toensure baseball stays vibrant in communities like Idaho Falls and Boise."

A statement from MiLB: "Minor League Baseball values the support of Representatives Trahan, McKinley, Rose and Simpson and the entire Task Force for America’s pastime and for recognizing our positive contributions to their communities andlocal economies as well as dozens of others across the country. While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels ofgovernment, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation."

The formation of this task force follows a Trahan-McKinley led bipartisan effort along with 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge MLB to abandon its plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams.

December 4, 2019 - 11:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Lions Tournament, Batavia Lions Club.


The annual Peter Arras Lions Basketball Tournament tips off at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 27 at Genesee Community College with Roy Hart, Attica, Elba, Oakfield-Alabama, Notre Dame, Perry, Le Roy, and Batavia high schools competing for large school and small school trophies.

  • Roy Hart and Attica play the first game at 3:30 p.m.
  • Elba vs. O-A is at 5:15 p.m.
  • Perry vs Notre Dame at 7 p.m.
  • Le Roy vs. BHS, at 8:45 p.m. 

The championship games are Dec. 30, with consolidation games at 3:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. The small school championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the large school championship game at 9 p.m.

Submitted photo and information.

Photo: front row -- Aiden Johnson, O-A, Bryce Reigle, Batavia, Joey Burdick, O-A, Reed Albee, Roy Hart; back row -- Franic Bisceglie, Attica, Michael Hockey, Perry, Grant Gilligan, Le Roy, Colton Dillion, Elba.

December 1, 2019 - 8:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports.

An Albion resident's first 800 series and a Batavian's eighth 300 game share the headlines this week in league bowling action across the Genesee Region.

On Monday, 31-year-old right-hander Brandon Gurnsey posted games of 276-279-257 for an 812 series in the Sneezy's Monday Night League at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion.

It is the first USBC-certified 800 series for Gurnsey, who eclipsed his previous high series of 789. A league bowler for the past nine years, the big effort on lanes 7-8 improved his average to 220.

Gurnsey, a bus mechanic for the Spencerport School District, registered 29 strikes for his Brooklyn Bombers team -- 10 in game one (with the front seven strikes), 11 in game two (with the front nine strikes before leaving a 4-pin) and eight in game three.

He said he wasn't sure if he still had a chance for the 800 late in the third game.

"I asked a teammate if I could still get it (800) since I'm not the greatest at keeping score while I'm bowling," Gurnsey said. "He said I needed a double in the 10th, which put a little more pressure on me."

Gurnsey struck on the first ball in the 10th and then finished with an eight count and spare.

"I was kind of upsest because I thought I missed it," he said.

His frustration quickly turned to joy when he learned that he, indeed, did hit 812, having received some incorrect information from his buddy.

While Gurnsey recorded an 800 series without the benefit of a 300 game (his high game is 290), Batavian Rob Stefani posted his eighth USBC-certified perfect game but just missed out on his first 800.

Bowling on lanes 5-6 in the G&W Vending League on Tuesday night at Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, the 35-year-old righty opened with 12 straight strikes for the 300.

"I caught a break in the eighth frame with a Brooklyn strike, and then after the 11th strike, I saw (fellow bowler) Chris Bardol videotaping me, so that made it a little more nerve-wracking," Stefani said. "I never had one on video before."

He came through despite the distraction and went on to roll 227 and 259 for a 786 series -- six pins less than his all-time high of 792. He entered the night with a 219 average.

"Once I shot the 300, I started thinking about an 800," said Stefani, an employee of the Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. "But the second game hurt me."

Although he fell short of the 800, Stefani said he had a great week -- both indoors and outdoors.

"I bagged a 10-point buck on Wednesday while hunting in Alexander and thought, 'Now all I need to do is shoot a 300,' " he said.

For a list of high scores, click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

December 1, 2019 - 1:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Sir Pugsley with driver Drew Monti in the lead.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Sir Pugsley took full advantage of a rare inside post, a favorable trip and a failed favorite to light up the tote board in the $12,500 Open I Handicap pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Nov. 30). 

Driver Drew Monti tucked Sir Pugsley in second behind last weeks winner Howmac Dancer (Renaldo Morales III) going to the quarter as the heavy favorite Crocketts Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) failed to negotiated the first turn and made a break as a result. Stalbaum gathered his 1-9 shot back together and rushed up the rim to pull close to the leader and remained there for the rest of the mile. 

The top three horses continued to pace in that order -- Howmac Dancer on top, Sir Pugsley in the hole and Crocketts Cullen N on the outside -- to the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:25.4. When they rounded the last turn and headed into the stretch, Crocketts Cullen N faded just enough to allow Monti to extract Sir Pugsley off the pegs and he came out with a full head of steam and mowed down Howmac Dancer in deep stretch to win by a length in 1:55.2.

It was the seventh win of the year and third of the meet at Batavia Downs for Sir Pugsley ($18.80) who has now earned $88,270 this year for owner Robert Woodburn. Patrick Shepherd trains the winner. 

In the co-featured $11,000 Open II Handicap, Rise Up Now (Shawn McDonough) tripped-out behind the front-running Brunello N (Drew Monti) for over 7/8ths of a mile before popping the deuce mid-stretch and brushing to the lead at the beam to win in 1:56.2. 

It was the fifth win of the year for Rise Up Now ($34.80) who is owned and trained by Steve Andzel. 

Driver Shawn McDonough continued his hot streak in the bike winning three more races on Saturday and he rewarded his backers with premium mutuels with all three. His longshots included Dark Horse ($44.60), the aforementioned Rise Up Now and Willey Bite ($26.40). In the last three nights McDonough has won seven races. 

Also on Saturday night drivers Ray Fisher Jr. and Renaldo Morales III each scored two wins. Trainers Ryan Swift, Joe Skowyra and Steve Andzel all had two wins apiece as well. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Dec. 6) with post time at 6 p.m.

November 30, 2019 - 11:18am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

It was a big night for driver Ray Fisher Jr. on Friday (Nov. 29) as he hit a major career milestone by surpassing the $20 million mark in career earnings at Batavia Downs after winning with trotter Lady Justice who is owned and trained by his wife, Ryan Swift. 

Fisher first started driving in 1987 and 30,212 starts later he has now registered 4,494 wins, 3,995 seconds and 3,725 thirds, all of which pushed him to this current earnings mark. Fisher’s career best one-year win total came in 1997 when he got 317 and his best earnings total came just two years ago when he banked $1,437,878 in 2017.

This year Fisher has earned $971,684 to date on the strength of 120 victories. At the current Batavia Downs meet Fisher has 49 wins and more than $400,000 in earnings. 

Fisher was joined in the winner’s circle by his wife Ryan and son Kyle for a special presentation made by Batavia Downs Director/General Manager of Live Racing Todd Haight. 

The top races on Friday night were both trots and each yielded convincing winners.

In the $12,500 Open I Handicap, Rockefeller Lindy (Mike Baumeister) tripped-out behind the frontrunning Majestic Kat (Billy Davis Jr.) until mid-stretch when Baumeister pulled right line, cleared and hit the wire three-quarters of a length ahead in 1:58.4.

It was the fourth win of the year for Rockefeller Lindy ($20.60) who has now earned $46,093 for owners Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. James Clouser Jr. trains the winner 

Then in the $10,000 Open II trot, newcomer Chuckabuck (Drew Monti) toured the facility on the front end from start to finish and won by 2-1/2 lengths in 2:00. Scoring his seventh win of the  year, Chuckabuck ($7.40) scored his first for new owner Carl Monti. Darrin Monti trains the winner. 

The Downs leading dash driver Billy Davis Jr. lit it up again, winning four races on the card. He now has 123 wins for the meet, 42 ahead of second place Jim Morrill Jr. Shawn McDonough also had a good night winning three races each. Angus McDonald and JD Perrin led all trainers Friday with two wins each. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on tonight (Nov. 30) with post time at 6 o'clock.

November 28, 2019 - 11:33am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Blue Bell Bonnie with driver Dave McNeight III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Rain driven by 50 mile-per-hour winds that blew right down the stretch made racing conditions less than desirable on Wednesday evening (Nov. 27) but it didn’t bother Blue Bell Bonnie who displayed intestinal fortitude while cutting the mile to victory in the $12,500 Open I Handicap for fillies and mares at Batavia Downs. 

Driver Dave McNeight III took command from post two when the gate released the girls and was never headed from there. After cutting fractions of :29.4, 1:01.2 and 1:31.2, Blue Bell Bonnie scooted around the last turn and took her one-length advantage all the way to the wire where she won in 2:00.2. 

It was the ninth win of the year for Blue Bell Bonnie ($8.30) who has now made $68,383 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. James Clouser Jr. trains the mare. 

The inclement weather stifled chalk bettors in two races as longshots blew up the tote board starting in race one where Playin The Ponies (Denny Bucceri) rallied late at 45-1 to win by a length and pay $92.50. The win also generated a 7-1-5 trifecta that paid $4,776.

Then in the fifth race, Better To Be Lucky (Renaldo Morales III) came from off the pace as well to win at 56-1 and return $114.50. The 8-6 exacta paid $764, 8-6-7 trifecta paid $3,528 and the 8-6-7-ALL superfecta returned $5,726. 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Nov. 29) with post time at 6 p.m. Also please note that there is a $930 carry-over for the Pick-5 wager that starts in race one. 

November 26, 2019 - 3:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, lougazi, Batavia Downs.

From Todd Bojarski for Batavia Downs.

The race summary for Friday, Nov. 22nd at Batavia Downs will tell you that Lougazi won the $12,500 Open 1 Handicap trot in the seventh race by an easy 1 ¼ lengths, but that’s not the whole story.

It capped an amazing 24 hours for the horse, who just the night previous had an adventure which saw him corralled in the Batavia Downs parking pot at 2 a.m.

Due to high winds on Thursday night, the bar door of Barn 1 swung open and after opening his own stall door, Lougazi went for a walk, ambling around the barn area. After meandering his way over to the Richmond Avenue entrance, he proceeded to walk out the gate onto Richmond Avenue.  

After spending some quality time at the VA, he walked down to Alex’s Place to check out their festive holiday decorations. Feeling a bit lucky, next he headed over to the Batavia Downs parking lot where a friendly patron was able to stall him until Batavia Downs staff could coax him back to his stall with a midnight snack of horse feed.

Security was informed by a patron that the horse was loose and immediately took action.

“We followed the horse very slowly and got him back inside the gate on Richmond safely," said security guard Nate Stone.

After all that excitement, Lougazi managed to get enough sleep and was able to overcome any prerace jitters to win the Open Handicap the following night.

Photos courtesy of Paul White. Top, Lougazi with driver Ray Fisher Jr. out in front to win the Open 1 Handicap trot in the seventh race on Nov. 22. Bottom, Lougazi in the Winner's Circle.

November 24, 2019 - 1:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, harness racing.

Photo of Howmac Dancer with driver Renaldo Morales III.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

A late-comer to the party, Renaldo Morales III headed to Genesee County upon the completion of the Tioga Downs meet and since arriving has become one of the hotter drivers in the area. On Saturday (Nov. 23) he continued to streak as he won four races, including both pacing features at Batavia Downs. 

In the $12,500 Open I Handicap Morales put Howmac Dancer right on the point and led the entire race by open lengths. After setting easy fractions of :28, :57.1 and 1:25.2, Morales let Howmac Dancer out a notch in the far turn and the gelding roared away down the lane, opening up a 3-½ length lead in a :28.1 final quarter to win in 1:53.3. 

It was the sixth win at Batavia Downs and eighth of the year for Howmac Dancer ($6.10) who is owned by the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. James Clouser Jr. trains the winner.

Then in the $11,000 Open II pace, Morales did an about-face and took In Runaway Bay N off the gate and sat a snug fourth on the pegs through the first half. From there he pulled second-over behind Southwind Onyx (Kyle Cummings), followed that cover to the three-quarters where Southwind Onyx took the lead from Lots Of Loving (Denny Bucceri) and then ran that one down in the stretch to win by 1-½ lengths in 1:55.2.

In Runaway Bay N ($4.30) is owned by Mark Jakubik and trained by Angelo Nappo.

Morales completed his Grand Slam behind Weekend Atnannies (1:56, $8.10) and Cee Pee Panic (1:58, $2.70). 

Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday (Nov. 27) with pot time at 6 p.m. This will be the final Wednesday of live racing this  year.

November 23, 2019 - 1:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, harness racing, Batavia Downs.

Photo of Lougazi in front with driver Ray Fisher Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

After making back-to-back breaks earlier this month forcing him to qualify, Lougazi rebounded from an off-track last week to score an easy 1-¼ length victory in the $12,500 Open I Handicap trot at Batavia Downs on Friday evening (Nov. 22). 

Rockefeller Lindy (Dave McNeight III) inherited the lead off the pylons as no one else left in the abbreviated field of five. He took advantage of the situation and went a pedestrian :29 to the quarter and :59.1 to the half. Lougazi (Ray Fisher Jr.) pulled first-over at that station and began to pursue around the third turn.

The race was on as Lougazi engaged Rockefeller Lindy on the backstretch and the two then trotted side-by-side to the three-quarters and around the last turn. Heading into the lane Lougazi took control, cleared and trotted away in the stretch, hitting the wire a wrapped-up winner in 1:58.3.

Lougazi ($3) raised his earnings for the year to $89,375 after scoring his ninth win for owner Mary Warriner and trainer Ryan Swift. 

In the $11,000 Open II trot, Ticket To Seattle (Renaldo Morales III) tripped-out behind Majestic Kat (Billy Davis Jr.) until halfway down the stretch when he tipped-out and blew by his cover at the light to win in 1:59. A $21.60 upset winner, Ticket To Seattle is owned by William Emmons and trained by James Clouser Jr. 

Dave McNeight III was the top driver on Friday with three wins. 

There is a $1,200 carryover for the Pick-5 wager in the first race tonight (Nov. 23) when live racing resumes at Batavia Downs with a 6 o'clock post time.

November 22, 2019 - 1:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horsemen and horsewomen are reminded of the draw schedule for Thanksgiving week at Batavia Downs.

A double draw will be held on Tuesday (Nov. 26) for races to be held on Friday (Nov. 29) and Saturday (Nov. 30). The entry box will close at 9 a.m. for both days.

After the draw, the judges must receive driver changes for Friday’s card (Nov. 29) by 1 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 26). Drivers changes for Saturday’s card (Nov. 30) are due by 10 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 27).

For more information or to make phone entries please call the Batavia Downs Race Office at 585-344-6161.

November 22, 2019 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, soccer, Batavia HS, batavia.


Katie Moore, a standout with Batavia High School's soccer team, signed a Division I scholarship offer this week with Jacksonville University in Florida.

Photo: Steve Moore, Katie Moore, Melissa Moore, William Buckenmeyer, Roger Hume, and Chris Chilano.

Submitted photo.

November 21, 2019 - 12:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, harness racing.

Photo: Lady London out front with driver Ray Fisher Jr.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Just to prove last week’s 5-¾ length win was no fluke, Lady London moved up to the top class and wired the field again in the $12,500 Open I Handicap pace for fillies and mares at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Nov. 20).

Driver Ray Fisher Jr. was decisive in strategy and repeated last weeks script; he left strong with Lady London and called out every quarter. They went :28 to the quarter and :57.1 to the half with the field in single file, and then rolled to the three-quarters in 1:25.4 with Squeeze This (Billy Davis Jr.) following close in the pocket and the favored HP Sissy (Drew Monti) winging it first-over on the rim. 

Coming off the final bend HP Sissy stalled and Squeeze This popped the deuce and was in full flight coming for home. She made up ground all the way down the lane but despite her valiant attempt to close the gap, Squeeze This fell a nose short to Lady London who stayed tough and won in 1:56. 

It was the eighth win of the year for Lady London ($7.50) who has now earned $70,873 for owner VHF Racing. Sabrina Shaw is the trainer. 

In the $9,000 under-feature, Little Joke (Billy Davis Jr.) dropped from Open II company and looked impressive as the heavy favorite with a wire to wire 1-1/4 length victory in 1:57.1. The eighth win of the year for Little Joke ($2.40) pushed her earnings to $74,428 for owners Vogel and Wags Nags Stable and Jack Rice. Maria Rice trains the winner. 

Ray Fisher Jr. and Denny Bucceri led all drivers on Wednesday with three wins each. 

Live racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Friday (Nov. 22) with post time at 6 p.m.

November 20, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, notify, muckdogs.


Major League Baseball should not end its affiliation with the Batavia Muckdogs, or any of the other 41 minor league teams reportedly on the chopping block without sitting down and listening to local community leaders and minor league executives, Sen. Charles Schumer said during a telephone press conference with Upstate news media today.

"This plan presents some real potential problems for New York State," Schumer said. "We don't know how real it is, but the newspaper reports are very disconcerting. So I am calling today on the MLB and Minor League Baseball to sit down and talk with the community leaders and with team owners to ensure that all the relevant parties can provide feedback and propose constructive solutions before any final decisions are made."

The proposal to eliminate or demote 42 minor league teams is potentially an issue for members of Congress to take up because Major League Baseball enjoys an exemption from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act based on a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1922. Congress has the power to overturn that exemption.

Responding to a question from The Batavian, Schumer declined to comment on how he might respond to any proposal to lift the exemption.

"As for the antitrust exemption, we all know it exists," Schumer said. "Let's see what Major League Baseball has to say. Let's see how quickly and willingly and cooperatively they are willing to sit down with us before we comment on that particular proposal."

The current proposal -- as leaked to The New York Times -- would move 42 teams currently affiliated with major league teams to an independent "Dream League." Schumer acknowledged that it's unclear what MLB means by a "Dream League."

Besides Batavia, teams listed as candidates to lose a major league affiliation are Binghamton, Auburn and Staten Island. Three New York teams -- the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones -- would be promoted to AA leagues. That proposal, Schumer noted, would mean the end of the New York Penn League, founded in Batavia 80 years ago.

Complicating matters for Batavia is that the Muckdogs are now owned by the New York Penn League.

For decades, the Muckdogs were owned by the community, run by the Genesee County Baseball Club with a volunteer board of directors. The team has been perpetually for sale for several years. If it ever were sold, some of the proceeds would be returned to the GCBC.  

Club President Brian Paris said last night that any proceeds from the sale would be used for the community's benefit.

So the Muckdogs are, in the true financial sense of the word, a community asset.

Attempts to reach Ben Hayes, NYPL president, to try and clarify how the MLB proposal might affect this community asset have been unsuccessful.

Schumer said the first order of business is getting MLB to listen to the concerns of the communities affected by this proposal. He is seeking a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manafort, whom Schumer hopes will understand the concerns of Upstate communities because he's originally from Rome. 

Loss of the NYPL would be especially devastating for baseball fans in Upstate New York, Schumer said. The Dream League, whatever that might be, Schumer said, might be a sufficient attraction to make professional baseball viable in Upstate.

"The New York Penn League short-season schedule has been ideal for New York baseball fans," Schumer said. "The games get started in mid-June after the colder spring weather; They last through the hot summer months when baseball's at its best, in my opinion."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has also weighed into the debate defending baseball in Batavia, stating, "If you’re in Batavia or anywhere nearby, you love the Muckdogs. I’ve been to many of their games. I’ve thrown out opening pitches. My husband and I slip in there at least once or twice a year to catch a game, so it’s part of the identity of the community and especially these small towns. I mean Batavia has a lot going for it, but part of it is being associated with a Minor League Baseball team."

Photo: File photo by Jim Burns.

November 19, 2019 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

It's early in the negotiations and officials with Minor League Baseball are working hard to save all the minor league ball clubs from the chopping block, a spokesman for Minor League Baseball said this evening.

"The game of baseball is just as important to Batavia and Auburn as it is in Charlotte or Indianapolis," said Jeff Lantz. "We want to see baseball grow and thrive and be a part of all of our communities."

He said it's unfortunate that word leaked that Major League Baseball floated a proposal to eliminate some minor league teams, and even more unfortunate that this week a list of teams MLB is proposing to be cut was leaked. Both Batavia and Auburn were on a list of New York Penn League clubs that could be scrapped if MLB is successful in reducing the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

"That's not good for anybody," Lantz said. "It's not good for Minor League Baseball. It's not good for the fans, and it's not good for the fans of Batavia and Auburn."

He said it's early in the process and MLB and its officials are meeting this week to negotiate. They'll meet again at the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks to try and hammer out a deal.

"We'll find out their (MLB's) concerns," Lantz said. "I don't think there are any concerns that can't be addressed through negotiations and finding out the best way to go."

Asked if MLB holds all the cards, Lantz said, obviously, the Appalachian League (of) MLB owns all the franchises and can do with them as they please, but the rest of the teams have separate owners so their status does become a point of negotiation.

The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the New York Penn League now, but the team's former owner, a community group -- Genesee County Baseball Club -- would receive a part of the proceeds if NYPL ever sold the club. If the club were sold and moved, members of the club have floated the idea of using the funds to start a baseball team in one of the leagues that provides summer baseball for college-level players.

Lantz referred questions about the team's ownership status and how that might play out in these negotiations to league president Ben Hayes.

The Batavian has been unable to reach Hayes although we've tried for the past couple of weeks.

General Manager Brendan Kelly said he was not authorized to talk about the status of the minor league clubs. We were also unable this evening to reach club President Brian Paris.

That said, Lantz confirmed, there will be a 2020 season for the Muckdogs in Batavia. The current contract between MiLB and MLB runs until Sept. 15, 2020.

"The good news is, that gives us 11 months to try to negotiate a deal," Lantz said.

Lantz said one thing that is helping the cause of Minor League Baseball is politicians speaking out to help save the teams in the communities they represent. He cited specifically a member of Congress from Massachusetts who got more than 100 other members of Congress to sign a petition to send to MLB asking MLB to protect these teams.

Sen. Charles Schumer has come out strongly in favor of keeping ball clubs in Batavia and Auburn.

“America’s favorite pastime should not become part of Upstate New York’s past," Schumer said. "It’s no secret that New York’s minor league teams are institutions within their communities, which is why I implore MLB to reconsider any such plans and will be reaching out to them directly to advocate for our New York teams."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who along with her husband, Bill, is a big fan of the Muckdogs and has attended several games over the years, also sent out a couple of Tweets in support of protecting minor league teams in New York. In one, Hochul wrote, "Foul ball!? @MLB - please say this isn’t so. As the birthplace of baseball and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, these teams are big economic drivers for our small towns and part of New York’s identity & culture."

UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Genesee County Baseball Club President Brian Paris said he's had no conversations at this point with Ben Hayes or Minor League Baseball about the future of the Batavia Muckdogs, though he is mindful of the fact that the club has a financial stake in the outcome of negotiations. He noted that Major League Baseball enjoys an antitrust exemption, which could limit the leverage of ball club owners but, citing a Baseball America article, noted that terminating as many as 40 franchises could jeopardize baseball's always tenuous hold on its exemption (which is authorized by Congress). If the Muckdogs are ever sold, Paris noted, it's the intention of the club's board of directors that any proceeds from a sale (about half the value of the club, less operational losses sustained by the NYPL since the league took over) would be used to the benefit the community.

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